How to Train Your Dog to Leave It

Medium
2-6 Weeks
Behavior

Introduction

'Leave it' is a basic and necessary obedience command. This is one you will use while on walks to keep your dog from being distracted. You can also use ‘leave it’ at home when your dog is counter surfing or has decided your shoes are his best chew toy. This command could save your dog’s life. Use ‘leave it’ to teach your dog not to go near something dangerous, bother something like a wild animal who could cause harm, or eat something that could cause illness. Most likely, this command will be used in your home to keep your dog’s curiosity in check. Use ‘leave it’ anytime you want your dog to step away from and keep his nose from something. From items which are not toys to foods you will not want your dog to eat, ’leave it’ is an essential command. Teach your dog to leave other animals alone on walks as well as the sleeping baby in your house with the ‘leave it’ command.

Defining Tasks

Training the 'leave it' command is a bit more advanced than basic obedience commands, but if your dog knows the basic commands, this one won’t be difficult. Be sure he knows all the basics before working on ‘leave it.’ You may require your dog to sit on command if he is on a walk and you need to use ‘leave it.’ You can teach a dog at any age to leave it. This command is important because your dog will be curious and depend on you to tell him what is acceptable to eat, sniff, and play with and what is not acceptable. Be ready for some short repetitive training sessions to teach ‘leave it.’ And have your dog in different situations as he learns the command so he knows this is used for many scenarios. 

Getting Started

To train ‘leave it,’ you’ll need treats, time, and patience. Plan short sessions to keep your dog’s interest. You may want to include items you don’t want your dog to have once he has learned the command. Practice ‘leave it’ once your dog understands basic commands. 

The Play with Temptation Method

Effective
0 Votes
Step
1
Tempt
Hide a treat in your closed fist and let your dog sniff it.
Step
2
Command
When your dog sniffs your hand to find the treat, say the command “leave it.”
Step
3
Focus
When your dog diverts his attention from the hidden treat, reward him with a different treat from your other hand. Offer verbal praise as well.
Step
4
Challenge
Practice these steps a few times. Once he has it done with the treat hidden in your hand, move the treat with your hand on the floor. When your dog sniffs your hands to try to get to the treat, use the command ‘leave it.’
Step
5
Practice
Use the ‘leave it’ command every time your dog shows interest in the hidden treat while training.
Step
6
Reward
Give your dog a treat each time he obeys and leaves the hidden treat alone.
Step
7
Other objects
Once your dog understands the command, begin to use other objects to entice him. Repeat the steps above to teach him to leave other items alone as well.
Recommend training method?

The Clicker Training Method

Effective
0 Votes
Step
1
Hidden treat
Hide some treats in your hands.
Step
2
Sniff
Allow your dog to sniff your hand and the hidden the treat, but leave your hand closed.
Step
3
Command
As soon as your dog sniffs your hand, say the command ‘leave it.’
Step
4
Acknowledgement
As soon as your dog acknowledges the command by looking at you, click and treat. You are rewarding him for diverting his attention from the hidden treat in your hand and praising him with the sound of a click and a treat from your other hand.
Step
5
Practice
Practice with hidden treats a few times clicking and treating every time your dog's attention moves away from the treat and onto you.
Step
6
Leave It
Use 'leave it' every time you want your dog to stop sniffing, observing, exploring, or eating something. Be sure to click and treat every time you get your dog's attention away from an activity he should not be doing.
Recommend training method?

The Catch in the Act Method

Effective
0 Votes
Step
1
Behavior
Watch your dog closely and catch him acting curious around something you don't want him to explore.
Step
2
Command
Say your dog's name and use the command to leave it.
Step
3
Acknowledgement
When your dog looks up at you and takes his attention away from what he should not be doing, give him a treat and verbal phrase.
Step
4
Set up scenarios
Take your dog on walks where he will become distracted and use the command 'leave it' every time his attention is diverted from you. Set up items in your house your dog will be curious about so you can use the command to leave it.
Step
5
Treat
Be sure to treat your dog every time you get his attention when you use the command.
Step
6
Practice
Practice these steps every time you see your dog sniffing or exploring something he should not be.
Recommend training method?
author-img

Written by Stephanie Plummer

Published: 10/11/2017, edited: 01/08/2021

Success Stories and Training Questions

Training Questions and Answers

Question
Zoe
Rottweiler
3 Years
0 found helpful
Question
0 found helpful
Zoe
Rottweiler
3 Years

Zoe doesn’t get to leave our property very often, she has 5 acres to play on so it is usually not necessary. This makes it challenging when we need to go for a car ride. She is scared of the other cars and barks and growls at them, I am investing in a restraint for the car, she currently just has the car seat hammock cover in the back seat but she will try to climb over it while we’re on the road. She loves when the window is down and she can stick her head out but her behavior when other cars pass by make it difficult to let the windows be down for her. I am afraid she will try to jump out or hurt herself trying to go after the other cars.

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
870 Dog owners recommended

Hello Lauren, I do suggest having pup sit or lie down while riding. Even though pup likes looking out the window - it sounds like pup is not safe doing so, and it also increases arousal, which contributes to the car aggression. Practice having pup perform a sit or down stay in a stationary car. Practice putting the car harness on and staying in the car, with the car off. Once pup can do that, check out the article linked below and the Overcoming fear method. You want to reward things that encourage calmness and not excitement or reactivity. The video below showed how to introduce the harness in one session for the purpose of time and taping. Go at your dog's pace. Some dogs will do this in one session, and others will need the training broken up into several sessions, going at pup's own pace. Harness introduction how to video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Tn5b8u1YS_g&feature=emb_title Overcoming Fear Method https://wagwalking.com/training/like-car-rides Have a friend drive you around while you practice enforcing a calm Sit or Down with the car harness on during short rides, to help with calmness. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

Add a comment to Zoe's experience

Was this experience helpful?

Question
JoJo
Beagle mix
11 Months
0 found helpful
Question
0 found helpful
JoJo
Beagle mix
11 Months

Just brought dog home a week ago. She is she sweet but generally responds to "no" by charging ahead to get to the object of her desire before you can stop her. Biggest problem is that she is terrorizing out two cats, bolting after them to play every time she catches sight of them. It seems like playing as opposed to aggression, but the cats are freaking out and she is relentless

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
870 Dog owners recommended

Hello Kelly, Check out the videos linked below for teaching calmness around cats. Mild cat issue - teaching impulse control: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IWF2Ohik8iM Moderate cat issue - teaching impulse control using corrections and rewards: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9dPIC3Jtn0E Work on impulse control in general with pup, by teaching things that increase impulse control and calmness - such as a long Place command around lots of distractions. Practicing the command until you get to the point where pup will stay on Place while you are working with a cat in the same room. I recommend also back tying pup while they are on place - safely connecting a long leash attached to pup to something near the Place just in case pup were to try to get off Place before you could intervene. Make sure what the leash is secured to, the leash itself, and pup's collar or harness are secure and not likely to break or slip off. This keeps kitty safe while practicing and reinforces to pup that they can't get off the Place. The leash should be long enough that pup doesn't feel the leash while they are obediently staying on the Place because it has some slack in the leash. You want pup to learn to stay due to obedience and self-control, and the leash just be back up for safety. Place: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=omg5DVPWIWo Below are some other commands in general you can practice to help pup develop better impulse skill/self-control - impulse control takes practice for a dog to gain the ability to control herself. Down-Stay: https://www.thelabradorsite.com/train-your-labrador-to-lie-down-and-stay/ Leave It: https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-shih-tzu-puppy-to-not-bite Out - which means leave the room: https://www.petful.com/behaviors/how-to-teach-a-dog-the-out-command/ I would also keep a drag leash on her in general in your home when you are there to supervise to make sure it doesn't get caught on anything, then when you want her to come or move away from something, you can calmly walk up to the end of the leash, step on it, grab it, give you command calmly, then use the leash to enforce the command by reeling pup in to come or moving her where she needs to go if she chooses to disobey - teaching her calmly that obedience isn't optional, to help with listening. Consistency method: https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-doberman-to-listen-to-you Come: https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-whippet-to-recall Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

Add a comment to JoJo's experience

Was this experience helpful?

Book me a walkiee?
Pweeeze!
Sketch of smiling australian shepherd